Innovative Training Program Improves Driver Skill and Reduces Liability Claims
After obtaining his Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from the University of Tennessee in 2011, Matthew Marshall was hired by Athens city manager Mitchell Moore as purchasing agent, IT director and risk manager for the City of Athens. One of his first risk management tasks was to review claims, and he noted a good employee safety history for the city. However, he also noted several property damage claims involving the city’s sanitation trucks, where the trucks had struck fixed objects, pulled down lines, or experienced minor property damage when forced to operate in tight, fixed spaces. Additionally, he noticed driver training was limited to review of safe practices from DVDs or discussions.
Many cities face this same problem. Matthew felt that a hands-on training program would improve driving skill, and allow evaluation of driving abilities so that the city could place more highly-skilled drivers on the most challenging routes. However, no pre-developed program was readily available, so he began developing his own program.
Since a sanitation truck is similar in size to a small pumper, Matthew talked with safety officer and fire chief Jim Dyer about the EVOC training provided to the firefighters. Together, they came up with a driver training track that included maneuvering around fixed objects, picking up containers in a tight spot, serpentine movement and backing.
One of the training goals is to help the drivers evaluate the location of the residential solid waste carts that are placed near fixed objects, such as mailboxes, and provide drivers with the capability to decline pick-up if the containers are not properly located.
Track space was identified at the back of the public works property, and all operators went through the training. They were cheered on by employees of the fire department as they began to recognize a common approach in the operation of their respective equipment. An additional benefit to the training is the joint mutual respect that has developed between these two departments.
The drivers practice on the track when their routes and other chores are finished and there is still time left on the clock. The training has resulted in reduced liability claims and improved confidence for the operators. They are showing a bit more pride in their work, too. Below is the public relations campaign Marshall developed and posted online and around town about the new training program:
There was very little money put into this training. Just an honest assessment of the challenges that faced the Sanitation Department coupled with creative but realistic training to address weaknesses. With this training, Matthew Marshall and the employees of Athens were able to improve the safety to the public, improve driving and operation skills of operators, and improve morale, too. That’s a win–win.
Do you have an innovative and effective risk management program in your organization? We would love to tell others about your success! Send an email to: MemberServices@PEpartners.org.
Successful Community Events Require Thinking Ahead
Municipalities are responsible for the many parades, festivals and special activities in their communities. To ensure these events are safe and enjoyable times for all involved, Public Entity Partners encourages cities to:
· Consult and involve their emergency services staff;
· Create safety plans that address risk mitigation;
· Conduct driver and vehicle screening, and;
· Ensure safe float operation, etc.
This is just a short list of loss mitigation steps. Please consult your Loss Control Consultants for a complete list of recommendations.
Municipality-Sponsored Youth Sports Increase the Potential for Injury Claims
The summer months provide great weather for youth sports. If your entity offers sports such as baseball, football, soccer or gymnastics, please remain cognizant of your potential exposure for youth injuries.
Youth are participating in sports at much younger ages, which also increases the trend for injury and lawsuits. Possible claims include allegations of improper supervision, including inappropriate instruction for the player’s age and experience level. Please note, if the team or program is organized, supervised, controlled or operated by your entity, mitigating exposure begins with you. Contact the loss control department if you have questions regarding youth sports exposures.